October 26, 2012
Researchers and academics in the western city of Poznań have teamed up to build and equip a research facility called the Wielkopolska Center for Advanced Technology (WCZT). This will be a multidisciplinary research center, a key project for the region’s economy, that will bring together a host of top professionals in both natural and technical sciences to work on new materials and biomaterials with diverse applications.
The project is being carried out by five universities—the Adam Mickiewicz University, the Poznań University of Life Sciences, the Poznań University of Medical Sciences, the Poznań University of Economics, and the Poznań University of Technology—and four institutes of the Polish Academy of Sciences: the Institute of Bioorganic Chemistry, the Institute of Plant Genetics, the Institute of Human Genetics, and the Institute of Molecular Physics, aided by the Institute of Natural Fibers and Medicinal Plants and the Poznań Science and Technology Park run by the Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation.
The project is co-financed by the European Regional Development Fund under the Innovative Economy Operational Program.
The European Regional Development Fund is covering 85 percent of the project costs while the rest comes from government grants.
The project budget is zl.251.55 million (63 million euros), including zl.213.82 million provided by the ERDF. The Adam Mickiewicz University is the coordinator of the project.
“The idea of the WCZT Poznań: Materials and Biomaterials project is embedded in the situation in the Wielkopolska region and is a great opportunity for tapping into the region’s potential for the benefit of the city of Poznań and the country as a whole,” says Prof. Bogdan Marciniec, chairman of the WCZT consortium’s Coordinating Committee .
The project brings together Advanced Technology Centers already active in Poznań—selected in a nationwide competition organized by the Ministry of Science in 2004.
These include the Center for Advanced Chemical Technology coordinated by the Adam Mickiewicz University and the Wielkopolska Center for Medical Biotechnology/Advanced Technology Center coordinated by the Poznań University of Medical Sciences. These centers previously operated on the basis of agreements that brought together leading research centers from various sectors (universities, Polish Academy of Sciences institutes, R&D centers) as well as companies. In a situation where the scientific community was in a sense forced to work more closely with business, it was necessary to pool resources in leading disciplines essential to innovative economic growth.
The Wielkopolska Center for Medical Biotechnology/Advanced Technology Center focuses on the synthesis and technology of new materials and biomaterials and their use for the benefit of society, using the results of research in chemistry, physics, biology, medicine, nanotechnology and biotechnology.
“The integration of the whole community will make it possible to create a center of high international importance, with a view to establishing an International Technology Institute in Poznań in the future,” says Marciniec. The center’s activities will be based on developing the original synthesis of chemicals, biochemicals and agrochemicals (so-called fine chemicals), as well as on developing a new generation of bio-and nano-materials and their precursors. Advanced technology and biotechnology will be developed for use in sectors including optoelectronics, medicine, agriculture and many other areas of industry and technology.
The research also aims to lay the technological foundations for many applications of bioorganic chemistry, molecular biology and biotechnology, in the healthcare sector in the broad sense (molecular and cell therapy and medical diagnostics), as well as for agronomic applications (DNA testing in crop production and animal husbandry) and in the food industry (food and feed additives, biodegradable packaging, etc.).
The center will be located in Poznań, within the Adam Mickiewicz University’s Morasko campus. The project provides for the construction and equipping of four buildings: a Center for Biomedical Technology together with an Animal House; a Center for Industrial Biotechnology together with a Greenhouse; a Center for Chemical Technology and Nanotechnology; and a Center for Materials Research, together with a Regional Laboratory of Unique Apparatus. The laboratory will be provided with highly specialized equipment that will be made available to the research community and small and medium-sized businesses. The centers will be linked with a Scientific and Technical Facility that will ensure efficient logistics. The facility will also comprise a Technology Transfer Center. The specialized laboratories at WCZT will be used for the synthesis of materials, development of nanotechnology and biotechnology applications, as well as research in disciplines such as biophysics and biochemistry, medical physics, and materials engineering. There will be a modern infrastructure for multidisciplinary research that can be fully utilized by specialists in various fields of science.
The comprehensive model of knowledge transfer being pursued in Poznań is designed to build an effective relationship between invention (at universities and research institutes) and innovation (in the Poznań Science and Technology Park run by the Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation) by putting in place all the necessary elements indispensable for an effective transfer of knowledge, in particular the transfer of Polish scientific and technological achievements to business practice.
The multidisciplinary center will carry out major research and research-and-development projects. Some of these will be pursued in cooperation with other businesses and institutions as part of Technology Platforms and EU framework programs. The center will also implement strategic programs coordinated and managed by the National Center for Research and Development. The Wielkopolska Center for Advanced Technology will offer jobs to over 200 research workers recruited from the most talented Ph.D. program graduates and researchers, mainly from universities and institutes based in Poznań. There will also be jobs for experts from other European countries.
“The Wielkopolska Center for Advanced Technology is a great opportunity, especially for young and mid-career Polish scientists who will find the right conditions to work in Poznań and achieve research results meeting top international standards,” says Marciniec. The center will work with research and development centers operated by companies in various industries. A key role in the transfer and commercial use of technology should be played by the nearby Poznań Science and Technology Park run by the Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation, together with a team of incubators for innovative spin-off businesses—the necessary link for an effective transfer of new materials technology to business practice, in particular to technology and industry parks and hi-tech industries.
The Poznań Science and Technology Park of the Adam Mickiewicz University Foundation has created conditions for the science and business sectors to work together. Over the past decade, Poznań Science and Technology Park facilities such as the Innovation Support Center and the InQbator have developed a comprehensive range of services to support entrepreneurship among students and residents, and to assist companies located in the Park and throughout the Wielkopolska region.
Of special note is support for ties between universities and enterprises, which means innovation and technology transfer at the national and European levels. The Technology InQbator, which was established in 2006 as a division of the Poznań Science and Technology Park, has developed effective methods for collaboration with academia. A large number of training courses have been held to train many young entrepreneurs to run their own business. Currently, the range of services offered by the InQbator and the Park as a whole has been expanded to include the InQbator Seed project targeted at those who conduct research work in areas including chemistry, biotechnology and IT, and have unique ideas and know-how.
As part of this project, a service has been launched whereby researchers behind original and innovative projects can raise funds and enlist the support of experts in carrying out their ideas.
The implementation of the “Construction of a Complex of Hi-Tech Incubators: Materials and Biomaterials and Information and Communication Technology” project under the Innovative Economy Operational Program is a response to market demand for innovation in the hi-tech sector. The complex will provide companies, on preferential terms, with professional laboratory and office space, designed from the ground up and equipped with a full range of facilities and extensive infrastructure and advanced IT facilities. The laboratory and office space will be available in a thriving research and business environment, with easy access to expert advice. Additionally, the Chemical Technology Incubator will offer the infrastructure to carry out technological processes on a large laboratory and semi-industrial scale. In addition to a modern infrastructure, eligible enterprises will have access to a package of innovation and business-related services to support their development. These will include consulting, training, workshops, promotion, technology audits, and assistance in obtaining funds from European Union research projects.
The location of the Park not far away from the Adam Mickiewicz University’s Morasko campus, also known as the Poznań Science Quarter, which is home to the Wielkopolska Center for Advanced Technology, is an important part of the idea of transferring technology to innovative companies located within the Park.
“Such a model, institutional approach to the Invention-Innovation relationship is a huge opportunity to keep young people realizing their ambitions in science and hi-tech business sectors in Poznań and Poland as a whole,” says Marciniec.